What is a Total Joint Replacement of the Knee and When Would You Need It?

Total Joint Replacement of the Knee

If chronic pain and stiffness in your arthritic knee prohibit you from climbing a flight of stairs, you may be considering a knee replacement so you can return to your daily activities, as well as your second floor.

Knee replacement surgery — or knee arthroplasty — restores function to the knees of thousands of Americans every year. The procedure involves replacing degenerated cartilage in the knee joint with implants to eliminate pain and stiffness. For most patients, a successful knee replacement leads to better mobility and a higher quality of life. The procedure is highly successful in restoring physical function and improving the patients’ overall vitality. 

How to Know If a Total Knee Replacement Is Right for You

While a partial replacement is an option for some people, a total replacement is necessary when the damage extends to multiple components of the knee joint. Doctors typically recommend the surgery when it is the only option for correcting complications caused by long-term arthritis, severe ligament instability, or an injury.

Many steps are taken first to determine whether a total knee replacement is right for a given patient. You may be a candidate for a knee replacement if:

  1. X-rays determine there is severe damage to multiple components of your knee joint.
  2. An assessment shows a limited range of motion, stability and strength that would be corrected through surgery.
  3. You haven’t found relief from non-surgical methods like supportive devices, medications and physical therapy (PT).

Even though this common procedure has undergone many improvements over the years, patients should seek treatment at a facility such as MidAmerica Orthopaedics that can provide state-of-the-art diagnostic tools, a team of orthopaedic specialists, and the most advanced treatment methods available.

What Happens During Total Knee Replacement Surgery?

After the area is anesthetized, the first step in the procedure involves placing small tracking devices in the tibia and femur. This enables a computer to build a 3D model of the leg to ensure the utmost accuracy. With the aid of robotic instruments, the orthopaedic surgeon cuts away damaged bone and cartilage from the patient’s thighbone, shinbone and kneecap. The procedure often requires ligament work, as well. The surfaces where damage was removed are then recovered with metal and plastic implants.

In a small number of cases, past knee replacement patients have undergone an additional corrective surgery due to a loosening of the implant or other issues. However, the advanced technology at MidAmerica’s Total Joint Clinic helps ensure a high level of success in joint replacements. With knee replacements, the orthopaedic surgeon uses a computer guidance system to keep all of the components precisely aligned, which helps ensure the proper balance and weight distribution for the patient. This system also allows surgeons to bend and flex the leg virtually, verifying that the reconstructed joint will work properly.

Custom-Made Knee Implants Produce Best Results for Patients at MidAmerica

Be sure you seek treatment at a clinic that will customize your implant to your form. The latest technology at MidAmerica replicates the patient’s unique structure and curves, even correcting for any deformities. Software is used to create the implants so they match every detail of the patient’s knee. With less invasive surgery and optimal bone preservation, you can expect a better-fitting implant and more natural feel after recovery. After surgery, you’ll be left with a perfectly fitted knee replacement and better overall results than with traditional methods.

What to Expect When Recovering from a Knee Replacement

Expect a lengthy recovery time from your knee replacement. You may have to stay in the hospital for a few days following surgery and need the support of a walker initially after returning home. A full recovery typically takes at least six to eight weeks, during which PT is essential. People with knee implants often go on to golf, bike, swim, and even ski or play tennis at moderate levels.

Patient education is vital to providing the highest quality of care. Following your doctor’s guidelines and attending PT will be crucial to a quicker and fuller recovery that gets you back to your usual routine. Surgery patients at MidAmerica also benefit from having access to a whole team of experts under one roof. Unlike at other facilities, you won’t need to travel to different locations for medical tests, therapy or follow-up appointments.

Sarkis M. Bedikian D.O. is an orthopaedic surgeon at MidAmerica Orthopaedics who specializes in total knee replacement surgeries. If you would like to speak with Doctor Bedikian about a possible knee replacement, or you have questions about other treatments for knee pain, contact MidAmerica online or call (708) 237-7200 to schedule an appointment today.

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